Buena Vista Pictures
We will always appreciate what we've learned from our parents and teachers throughout our childhood. But let's get one thing straight: Disney Channel Original Movies deserve just as much credit for teaching us so many valuable life lessons. Motorcrossed taught us that girls are just as capable of excelling at male-dominated sports as boys are. You Wish! reminded us to appreciate what we already have, even if it's not perfect. Don’t Look Under the Bed warned us to literally never look under our beds to avoid creepy creatures, and the list goes on. But contrary to what most of us think, some of these beloved childhood movies actually don't fall under the DCOM umbrella.
See, there are Disney Channel Original Movies, then there are Disney Channel reruns that weren't specifically created for Disney Channel. Also, quite a few of the older films (those released before 1997) are actually referred to as Disney Channel Premiere Films, rather than DCOMs. Though a few of these have never actually been aired on the network, they've played such an important role in our childhood that they truly do feel like Disney Channel classics. And we know we're not the only ones who feel this way. See which movies you've probably mistaken for a DCOM, even though it's not.
You might have seen countless reruns on Disney Channel when you were younger, but actually, it was a Disney Channel Premiere Film. Wish Upon a Star (aka the sister version of Freaky Friday) focuses on two young sisters, Alexia and Hayley, who lead pretty opposite lives and then switch bodies after wishing on a shooting star. After spending days actively trying to ruin each other's lives, though, they eventually learn to appreciate each other more. We always dubbed this film as one one of the top "DCOM" classics. Turns out we were wrong on that one...
Way before we saw Matthew Perry turn into Zac Efron in the remake, Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley co-starred in the original version. In the film, young Willie's science experiment accidentally spills and eventually causes his grandparents become teenagers again. But as they enjoy reliving their youth, Willie learns that there are dangerous side effects, so he rushes to create an antidote in time. We all thought that this was a DCOM gem, but the fantasy comedy actually made its debut on Showtime Networks in 2000.
To be honest, just the title of the film makes us want to start singing "Be A Star." We all remember how Casey tries to bring her late mother back to life by using a book of magic. But to her dismay, the spell ends up working on her plastic Eve doll, rather than her mom. It certainly touched on themes that are popular in most DCOMs, like self-confidence, moving on from tragedy, and the power of friendships. But the movie originally debuted on ABC as part of The Wonderful World of Disney.
Another fun fact worth noting is that the sequel, Life Size 2: A Christmas Eve, recently premiered on Freeform earlier this month.
Like Life-Size, Toothless was also released as part of The Wonderful World of Disney on ABC. Kirstie Alley starred as Katherine Lewis, a dentist who dies and lands in limbo between Heaven and Hell. In order to make it to Heaven, she performs community service as a Tooth Fairy. And in the process, she bonds with a boy named Bobby. We're not even going to lie - a small part of us wished that we had Katherine as our own Tooth Fairy.
Who could forget Kyle Howard as Gunther Wheeler, the fearless paperboy? After moving to a new neighborhood, he takes on the paperboy job, but things go haywire when a group of bullies starts to harass him and his new friends. So naturally, Gunther and his team devise a master plan to get back at the bad guys. The classic has definitely aired on Disney Channel a few (hundred) times. But technically, it was a Disney Channel Premiere film.
Duncan and Hallie's innocent encounter at the mall turns into a pretty wild date night. But it's not so easy, considering that Hallie is the president's daughter and she constantly has secret service agents following her. Though it certainly felt like a DCOM, the comedy premiered in ABC's revival of The Wonderful World of Disney in 1998.
Will Friedle, who played Duncan, actually expressed interest in doing a sequel in 2016. He said: "If someone comes up with a great story for a second My Date With The President's Daughter, of course I’d be interested in doing it, it was a wonderful experience." We're definitely here for it because we'd love to see him rock that hairstyle again!
While we're on the topic of presidents and their kids, this movie follows the U.S. president's mischievous son, Luke. A Secret Service agent named Sam Simms is assigned to protect him, and during the process, they bond and become close. But their newfound friendship seems to complicate things when Sam bends the rules to do Luke a favor. One would think that the comedy flick was a DCOM. But actually, it got released in theaters by Walt Disney Pictures.
In this sports film, Will Friedle played an apprentice devil named Griffelkin. In order to graduate from the Beelzebub Vocational Institute, Griffelkin has to steal the soul of a young hockey player. But after a while, he has a change of heart and he chooses to side with good. Instead of stealing a soul, he teams up with an angel named Gabrielle and they manage to defeat Beezlebub. Its been on Disney Channel quite a few times, as well as Disney XD. However, it originally made its debut on ABC in 1999.
Walt Disney Pictures
Getting to know the kids of East High made us all want to be a part of their squad. But while we enjoyed the first two installments on Disney Channel as , the grand finale, which focused on the challenges of their senior year, was released in theaters by Walt Disney Pictures in 2008. Many fans would argue that it's the best of the three films, even despite the bittersweet farewell. And not surprisingly, it ended up breaking the record for the largest opening weekend for a musical film, grossing a total of $90 million. Go Wildcats!
Almost every girl who watched this movie had a major crush on Shane McDermott (us included). He played a teenager named Mitchell, who switches schools and moves in with his aunt. After enduring tons of mean pranks and bullying as the "new kid," he finally earns the respect of his bullies after using his rollerblading skills in street hockey games. It certainly felt like a Disney Channel Original, but it was released in theaters by Warner Bros. in 1993. Unfortunately, it bombed at the box office, grossing just $2.9 million with a budget of $2.6 million.
It aired tons of times on Disney Channel, but it was never made for that network. The original version, which included profanity, was actually released on a German network called Super RTL (also a Disney partner). In the movie, Susie Q dies in a car crash. But four decades later, her ghost returns and teams up with Zach (the current resident of her old home) to save her parents from facing homelessness. If you think about it, the movie includes more mature and dark themes than we're used to seeing in typical DCOMs. But overall, it was still pretty tame and it had tons of adorable moments.
Back when Justin Timberlake still rocked curly hair and sang with NSYNC, he played the adorable model Jason Sharp in Model Behavior. In the film, the main characters, Alex and Janine, meet each other and decide to switch places because they look so alike. But this proves to be more difficult than they thought. The movie was based on Michael Levin's book, Janine and Alex, Alex and Janine, and it honestly sounds like a classic DCOM plot. But the movie aired on ABC as part of The Wonderful World of Disney anthology.
It's sort of like Full-Court Miracle, but with soccer instead. In the movie, an English teacher named Ms. Anna participates in a foreign exchange program and gets placed in a school in Texas. She meets a group of struggling kids who don't seem eager to learn anything. But when she introduces them to soccer and forms a team, things start to turn around for the better. It sounds like the perfect story for a DCOM, right? But surprisingly, the movie was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and it hit theaters in 1995.
When Max realizes that he and his family are moving to Chicago, he comes up with a clever plan to get back at all of his enemies, including the ice cream man, Principal Elliot T. Jindrake, and his bullies at school. However, Max's plans seem to backfire when he learns that his family isn't moving after all. We always assumed that this movie was a DCOM classic because the story has "Disney Channel" written all over it. Plus, there's the fact that That's So Raven's very own Orlando Brown is part of the cast. But on the contrary, this film was released in theaters and produced by Walt Disney Pictures.
We could've sworn that Tower of Terror was among the Disney Channel's list of nightmare-inducing films (including Don't Look Under The Bed and Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire). But though it was technically a television film, it didn't air on that network. It debuted on ABC in 1997.
The film was inspired by the real Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Also, parts of the movie were actually filmed at the theme park attraction.
Some Disney Channel fans have made the mistake of labeling this 1997 film as the very first DCOM. But while the movie was produced for the network, it was technically a Disney Channel premiere movie (Under Wraps, which was released in the same year, is acknowledged as the first). In the film, Something's Gotta Give actress Diane Keaton starred as a childless widow named Roberta. After Roberta's brother passes away, she learns that she will have to take care of her young nephew, Jack. But the two find it pretty challenging to adjust to each other's company.
We've seen so many beloved Disney Channel shows become DCOMs. There was Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, The Even Stevens Movie, The Suite Life Movie, and more. So naturally, you'd think that The Lizzie McGuire Movie would follow suit, right? ...Wrong. The movie had its theatrical release back in 2003 and it actually peaked at number two at the domestic box office. There were plans to do a sequel as well, but that was unfortunately canceled because Hilary Duff and Disney had ~creative differences~. *sigh*